• September 18, 2014

Recruiting and Keeping Talented Volunteers

Tuesday, April 7, 2009, at 12 noon, U.S. Eastern time

As the economy has worsened, charities around the country have seen a sharp increase in the number of people looking for volunteer opportunities.

The financial situation has also prompted nonprofit groups to rely more heavily on volunteers to help them deliver services under tight budgets.

But recruiting and managing volunteers is far from easy. Charity leaders often complain that they spend too much time working to attract and train people. And some volunteers report that their experiences are poorly planned and that they often can't see the connection between their activities and the mission of the organization.

So how can charities compete for the most committed volunteers and get them to stick with the job? How is technology changing the way charities can recruit volunteers? And what can charities do to satisfy the needs of those who are giving time to help their causes?

The Guests

Jennifer Bennett manages the volunteer program at VolunteerMatch, a San Francisco organization that helps connect potential volunteers with nonprofit organizations through the Internet.

Robert T. Grimm Jr., is the director of research and policy development at the Corporation for National and Community Service, in Washington, where he leads major service programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America. Previously, he directed the American Philanthropists Project at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

A transcript of the chat follows.

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    Hello and welcome to today's live discussion. Today, we're talking about effective ways to recruit and retain your group's most talented volunteers. Our discussion will focus on some of the best methods charity leaders and managers can use to keep committed volunteers and attract more of them, as well as how best to manage the recent increase many nonprofit groups are seeing in people looking for volunteer opportunities.

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    Our experts this week are Jennifer Bennett, who manages the volunteer program at VolunteerMatch, and Robert T. Grimm, Jr., director of research and policy development at the Corporation for National and Community Service. They will be available for the next hour to take your questions.

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    Before we get started, I wanted to issue a couple of quick reminders. First, you are invited at any time during the discussion to ask questions or post comments on what you are reading. To do that, simply click on the "ask a question" link on this page and type in your question or comment. Second, we will be offering a full transcript of this event after it is complete at http://philanthropy.com/live. You are welcome to refer to the transcript in the future -- and to pass it along to others who might find it interesting.

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    Without further ado, let's get started.

Question from Nonprofit professional:
    My organization under funds volunteer recruitment and recognition and over funds programs. How can I encourage leaders in my organization to support volunteer recruitment and recognition? Are grants available that would specifically allocate money toward these activities?

Robert Grimm:
    Your question goes to the heart of one of the key challenges to engaging and getting more out of volunteers in many nonprofit organizations ‚Äì many senior leaders are not investing enough in engaging volunteer talent or taking a strategic approach to managing this overlooked and undervalued talent pool. In fact, I co-authored a cover article in the winter 2009 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review called the "New Volunteer Workforce" (available for free at http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_new_volunteer_workforce/) that is about this issue and that article makes the case that the nonprofit sector is losing billions in volunteer resources and outlines a number of approaches to help remedy the situation. One way that you can help make the case for greater organizational investment in volunteer talent is to do a version (in your own nonprofit) of what a project at the National Council on Aging is doing with a number of local nonprofits and the support of Atlantic Philanthropies, which is to develop a tool that shows you how a dollar effectively invested in volunteer management leverages multifold dollars in value for the nonprofit. I think this is one of many good strategies to further convince board members and CEOs of the importance of this work.

And I do think more and more funders are catching on about the need to invest in volunteer engagement infrastructure and that is something we certainly do a lot of through the various grant programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Question from Georgia, NYU:
    Any advice on how to "let go" of ineffective volunteers? I want to allow them to leave graciously, in a way that doesn't send a bad message to other volunteers, but I also want the message to get across to everyone that a real commitment is needed!

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi, Georgia. Managing volunteers can be challenging, especially when you need to ask a volunteer to leave your organization. This can be particularly when the volunteer has given years of service to your organization, or if the volunteer is a part of a large group of vocal volunteers. The best way to deal with this situation is to communicate in an effective way as early as you can, and to be as consistent as possible in your message. You want to ensure that you are as transparent as possible in your communication with all volunteers so the rest of your team know that this volunteer is being ask to leave specifically because of something he or she did or did not do. If you're looking for more information on how to handle this type of situation you may want to attend our free webinar on Managing Difficult Volunteer Transitions. All of the dates can be found on our website here http://www.volunteermatch.org/nonprofits/learningcenter/

Question from Suzanne Perry, Chronicle of Philanthropy:
    Mr. Grimm -- How should nonprofit groups be preparing for the expansion of national and community service foreseen in both the stimulus package and the Serve America Act? Thanks.

Robert Grimm:
    We were very excited to see the broad bi-partisan support for the Serve America Act and the Corporation's role in promoting the nation's commitment to service. We were equally pleased that Congress looked to us as a part of the Recovery Act strategy. We are still going through the legislation but are excited about the many opportunities to make service opportunities more available to the thousands of Americans who want to answer President Obama's Call to Service. The bill's effective date is October 1, 2009, so we have some time to work within the Administration and with all of our stakeholders on implementation. In keeping with the Obama Administration's commitment to transparency in government, we intend to proceed with lots of input from stakeholders as we move to implementation and we have already been following such a process with the recovery funds (including online and conference call feedback). Check out this link for more details: http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/recovery/index.asp

Question from Sarah Nehrling, Tostan International:
    Potential volunteers often seem eager to submit applications to volunteer programs, but sometimes do not take the time to read through the details of the program (tasks, financial responsibilities, length of service, etc.). How can I make sure that, in their eagerness, they read ALL of the available materials BEFORE submitting their application materials, as informed, conscientious candidates?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Sarah, It can be an amazing and powerful thing when volunteers are enthusiastic about your program and your mission, but it's up to us as volunteer managers to ensure that the enthusiasm is properly directed. Review your volunteer opportunities and postings. Is the information you need a prospective volunteer to know easy to understand and find? Can you emphasize those deal breakers - background checks, training and orientation dates, etc. Remember, not everyone processes information in the same way - present the most important information in multiple ways, perhaps include that information in a paragraph form and then follow up with a bulleted list. But, I think the most effective way to ensure that this information is heard and understood by volunteers would be an interview.

Question from Neil, children's museum:
    New laws in our state require criminal background checks for volunteers who have "direct and unsupervised contact" with children. Apparently no one has defined what direct and unsupervised means, particularly in an environment where the parents are actually present. This could have a chilling effect on the use of volunteers. Any thoughts?

Robert Grimm:
    Obviously, protecting vulnerable populations is critical ‚Äì the challenge is to do it in a way that doesn't discourage good people from volunteering. The Serve America Act that was just passed by the Congress will require national service programs to conduct, for each grant-supported participant or staff member, (1) a National Sex Offender Registry Check and (2) either a State criminal registry check OR an FBI fingerprint check for individuals serving vulnerable populations (children under the age of 17, people over the age of 60, and individuals with disabilities). The Act also requires the Attorney General to conduct a feasibility study on the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal history checks with an interim report due in 6 months and a final report due within a year of enactment. The report would examine, among other things, the availability, accessibility, and cost of the checks. I can't speak to the requirements of individual states, but would encourage you to talk to counsel.

Question from Sarah Nehrling, Tostan International:
    In these hard economic times, potential volunteers are more actively seeking us out as a fall-back to remunerated positions for which they have applied. Some volunteers even withdraw after having accepted a position. How can we convey to potential volunteers that, in applying, they should be seriously considering serving, and, in accepting and signing a commitment form, we are counting heavily on their coming?

Robert Grimm:
    More and more nonprofits and news stories are reporting that our very difficult economic climate is resulting in a number of people seeking out volunteer opportunities. This is a great challenge and an opportunity. I think one key is to implement practices that result in people developing a deeper and deeper connection with your organization. Our research shows that volunteering isn't as much about having the time to volunteer but creating volunteering opportunities that people want to make the time for. For example, people who don't volunteer watch a lot more TV than people who do volunteer. I also think that a key to getting people to stay is a very strong matching process between the individual and the nonprofit. An organization may not have an opportunity that is a good fit with the talents of a person who contacts them and wants to volunteer with them‚Ķin that case it is better to connect that individual to another organization that has an opportunity that fits their passion instead of taking them on.

Question from Eyvette Jones - Urban Possibiities , small non-profit :
    We are gearing up for our first volunteer orientation. What would you suggest as the must-haves for that event? What are the absolute no-nos?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Eyvette, What a great question! Volunteer orientations can be really effective, especially if you consistently have a large group of volunteers who express interest in getting involved in your organization. An orientation can be a great way to convey important information about your organization.

Prospective volunteers should learn about the mission of your organization, and how that mission impacts their community, and how they, as a volunteer, will contribute to that impact. You'll also want to ensure that information about your organization's culture is conveyed. What should a volunteer know about how things work before they show up for their first shift?

How are volunteers deployed within your organization? Are there different shifts or programs they need to learn about before making an educated decision about whether or not to get involved? This could be included in an orientation.

Is there additional training or steps they need to take before they can volunteer? Background checks, interviews, etc.? Use this time to emphasize important next steps.

The information you choose to include will depend on your program, how your organization deploys volunteers, and what your goals are for an orientation. Two of the most important goals (the ones that should be at the top of the list) should be to provide volunteers with the essential information they'll need to move forward with your organization, and convey to them the impact they can make in their community.

You may find that with the size of your organization, and the way in which you engage volunteers, an orientation isn't the most effective way to accomplish your goals. There's nothing wrong with that. Here at VolunteerMatch my program is small enough that I engage each volunteer individually, and information that might be included in an orientation is instead conveyed through an informal one on one conversation.

Best of luck with your program.

Question from Ericka Harney, Council of State Governments (and community volunteer administrator):
    While the Serve America Act is a very exciting piece of legislation, I fear that it will put a severe strain on those managing volunteer resources as mentioned in the discussion opening. I think a surge in volunteerism is great but those who aren't properly trained in managing volunteers are going to be overwhelmed. How do you feel nonprofits can best position themselves and staff to offer quality volunteer opportunities without breaking the bank on staff time? Also from a state government perspective, how do you feel increases in AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps and Learn and Serve programs will affect the states - both in positive and negative ways?

Robert Grimm:
    Thanks for your valuable comments. We also recognize that growth will only occur well if it is gradual and implemented with the careful and close engagement and advice of all kinds of national, state, and local groups and includes further support around capacity-building. As I said in one of my earlier posts, the Act will not become law until October 1 and in-between that time as well as after we will be providing numerous opportunities to discuss how we and all our partners can implement this act in a responsible way over the coming years. The Congress explicitly developed the Serve America Act with expectations that call for responsible growth and greater capacity-building support to ensure we are all able to engage volunteers well.

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    As we approach the midway point in today's discussion, I'd like to offer a reminder that participants are encouraged to ask questions at any time. To submit your query, simply click on the "ask a question" link on this page and type in your question.

Question from Susan Goodreds, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel NY:
    What are some strageties for informing and engaging paid staff in the role of volunteers, assuming I have the support of top leadership and mid-level management does not have the information and background they need to develop expectations and good working relationships.

Robert Grimm:
    This is an extremely important question. Here is an example from one nonprofit. At the American Cancer Society, they do trainings with volunteers and staff together and they create work plans for staff and performance evaluations that make it clear that they believe that many staff can not achieve their goals for the year without effectively working with volunteers. They also talk about the importance of investing and supporting in "talent" and d define that as staff and volunteers. In the end, you want to develop an organizational culture that results in staff feeling that volunteers are their partners in achieving your mission.

Question from Mia, Small Volunteer Program:
    I work to place youth in volunteer positions (with various organizations) and get them excited about philanthropy and volunteerism. Do you have any suggestions for engaging busy young individuals in volunteerism?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Mia, I think one of the keys to engaging busy people, no matter what their age range, is to really draw a connection between the work they'll be doing with the organization, and the impact that work will make in the community. Make sure you're answering the question, why? Why should I get involved? Why should I give my time to this organization instead of doing something else.

I'm sure you already do this, but the more you can understand what motivates each youth, even if the volunteerism is a requirement, the more you can make a strong connection between the volunteer and the organization. Is the youth passionate about animals? Is he or she looking to gain some real world work experience? Have they had a life changing experience they may want to share with others? All of these questions (and answers) can make that connection and the impact more valuable for both the volunteer and the organization.

Question from Nazia, IR USA:
    I am the newly hired volunteer coordinator. Do you have any suggestions for courses I can take online or in the D.C. area?

Robert Grimm:
    To help organizations more effectively recruit and retain volunteers, the Corporation makes available many effective practices and free resources at its Resources Center at www.nationalservice.gov, to help nonprofits, civic leaders and communities. Tools and resources, including webinars, for strengthening volunteer management are available at the Corporation's Resource Center website at www.NationalService.gov/resources/via2008. There are even resources to help nonprofits develop cost-saving strategies during these tough economic times.

Question from Georgia, NYU:
    How do you recommend screening volunteers? What are some of the most important pieces of information to get, and how do you recommend structuring the interview or screening process?

Robert Grimm:
    I think the answer to this question depends a good deal on the talents you are looking for in the volunteer position you are interviewing for. So, I would shape some of your questions based on your answers to questions like, what talents are you looking for in this position? That will differ for various volunteer opportunities. I really think that for many volunteer opportunities you should think about a process that is similar to interviewing for staff. A couple things that I think are very important to learn is what a person's passions are and their talents are as well as what isn't their talent and passion. That will help you decide what kind of a fit they are for various positions. What you are striving for here is what you see a group like Match.com striving for in matching a couples, questions that will ensure the individual and the nonprofit's opportunity are a really good fit.

Question from Sarah Nehrling, Tostan International:
    How does one raise awareness amongst staff of the value and necessity of volunteers not only to the organization as a whole and specific, detached projects, but also to their own daily work and larger objectives?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Sarah, Assuming you have support from your organization's executive leadership, and if you don't - that's the first conversation I'd have. Staff need to know that engaging a volunteer to help move their day to day, or programatic work forward is support and encouraged by their manager, and their manager's manager, otherwise the idea has a hard time taking hold.

Once you have leadership support, creating buy in from the rest of your organization can be challenging, especially when you're beginning to engage volunteers in roles and positions that they haven't traditionally filled within your organization. Staff can feel challenged or threatened. My best advice is to start small. Find a champion within your organization and work with him or her to create a new model of volunteer engagement within that program or department. Be open with the rest of your organization. Use staff meeting time to tout this program, and the new model of engagement, and the successes that this one program is having. Encourage additional staff members to come to you with ideas for how they may be able to engage volunteers in a new way, and increase the capacity of their program's impact.

Question from Sarah Nehrling, Tostan International:
    What, in your opinion, are the top 5 motivating factors for a volunteer during his or her service, and how can an organization best assure that these are met?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Sarah, I'm not sure I could identify 5 factors that apply generally to all volunteers. Motivation is as unique as each volunteer. The best thing your organization can do is ask. Ask each volunteer why they want to volunteer in general. Ask they why they want to volunteer specifically with your organization. Ask what they hope to accomplish with they volunteer service. And, I always ask each volunteer how they'll know when they've accomplished what they want to with their volunteer engagement.

Generally, though, most people want to know that they work they do for your organization is valuable. Valuable to the community, to the organization, and most importantly to them. Once you've answered that question for a volunteer, meet their needs is easy.

Question from Dennie, Second Harvest Heartland:
    What components do long-term volunteers look for to be motiviated to remain long-term with a charity?

Robert Grimm:
    Unfortunately, I think part of the answer to this question is that it depends for different volunteers. Consequently, it is very important to learn more and more about your volunteers over time and what "turn them on" when they are volunteering and serving with your organization and what they hope to get out of different experiences. It is more work than if I said just do this or this but well worth it. That said, some things that do seem to work for some long-term volunteers is offering different opportunities over time and even career ladders for volunteers as well as offering opportunities for them to learn or gain additional skills. Still, this will vary by volunteers and I think the key is understanding your long-term volunteers' motivations well and also building stronger and stronger relationships between them and your organization.

Question from Susan Smart, Tredyffrin Township Libraries:
    What are some of the most effective ways of recruiting volunteers?

Robert Grimm:
    The most tried and true one is still the oldest, which is having a current volunteer in your organization ask someone else if they would consider volunteering for your organization. Volunteering is a relationship business and it is always valuable to keep that in mind.

Question from Janice Maffei, VisionFirst:
    Often the nonprofit staff is overworked, with many demands on their time. What can volunteers do to make it easy (easier?) to create a shared picture of tasks and goals - and how that links up to the larger mission?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Janice, I think the key to creating shared goals between paid and unpaid staff is communicating to them as one group. Are your volunteers included in the same type of communication as paid staff? Are paid staff informed on the work and impact volunteer staff makes on a regular basis? When there are two sets of messages it can often make both groups feel separate and distinct. But if volunteer staff are encouraged and invited and expected to attend staff meetings, and if paid staff is encouraged and invited and expected to attend volunteer trainings or recognition events that line blurs. The more closely you can align both groups communication around mission, goals and values the easier it is for your whole organization to focus on the goals and mission.

Question from Angela, Center for Economic Progress:
    Our volunteers work at more than 30 sites throughout the state. Depending on proximity to headquarters and the culture of the individual site and its leaders, some sites are very disconnected from the organization as a whole. What tips do you have to help us connect volunteers to the organization, keeping in mind that our volunteer management department is too small to communicate individually with the majority of volunteers?

Robert Grimm:
    You might want to explore if there is a way you could use technology, particularly social media, to create greater connections and a stronger community among volunteers. From Facebook causes to other applications like Zazengo.com, folks are creating platforms that provide a way for people to build stronger connections with people in distant areas and these mediums are often really low cost or sometimes free to you.

Question from Kimi Wetterauer, Atlas Service Corps / YNPNdc:
    Do you have suggestions about how small organizations (in size and budget) can effectively reward and recognize volunteers?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Kimi. I think the key to real recognition is that it be heartfelt. If a volunteer feels that the work he or she is doing is important to both him or her and the organization, often that is reward enough. I would encourage you to ask your volunteers - What's the best way that we can say thank you to you for all of the hard work you do for us? It can be an informal email, or conversation, or if you have ideas in mind try using a survey tool to narrow down options. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you card, though. They can be inexpensive, especially if created by clients or staff, and it takes just a minute or less for each staff person to write something personal to each volunteer.

Question from Susan Goodreds, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts:
    Second submission: Top level management can be very positive about volunteers, but I find that middle level managers lack the information they need about volunteers to help then understand volunteers and volunteering. Any ideas about informing and orienting them toward better understanding and expectations of volunteers?

Robert Grimm:
    Do you have any mid-level managers who are doing a great job of engaging volunteers and are seeing major benefits from the experience? If so, maybe senior leaders and you could highlight them and even ask those managers to help you convince other managers what they are missing and how it could work for them? As you suggest, I do think one job of a volunteer coordinator is to sell folks on the benefits on effectively engaging volunteers and since you have senior leadership support, I'd find ways to leverage that support that work in your organization's culture.

Question from Jo Ann Schindler, Red Cross:
    We are struggling to move our volunteers up into leader roles. We have nearly enough members, to cover our schedule of 24/7/365 but not many volunteers want to move into the leader role. Any advice?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Jo Ann, My question to you would be why would a volunteer want to move into a leadership position? Are there benefits or rewards that go along with this position or is it one those things that people 'should' want to do, but really mean more work, more stress, more responsibility, and even less reward?

I'd ask those volunteers why they aren't interested in moving to a leadership position. It doesn't need to be threatening, it could even be an anonymous survey. But until you know why people aren't excited to take on more responsibility within your organization you wont be able to fix the problem.

You may find that it's simply a communication problem. Volunteers may not understand why it's so important to have leaders for each shift, and they may not know about the benefits or rewards for taking the leadership role.

You may also want to think differently about the leader role. Volunteers may feel more comfortable working in a team with different people assigned each part of that leadership role - one goes to meetings, one makes the schedule, etc. Can you encourage a more team based leadership role to spread the responsibility out among qualified volunteers?

Question from Monica- Northern Virginia nonprofit:
    How can I engage volunteers to help at fundraising activities that help low-income people in an indirect way? I have no problem to find people interested in direct services opportunities like tutoring, mentoring, etc

Robert Grimm:
    Of course it depends for different organizations but the key here is looking for volunteers who have a talent and passion for this kind of work. You may already do this, but you would likely want to recruit and look for different talents in your fund raising volunteers than your direct service volunteers. I'd also look for mentors and tutors who have already served a term or more with you and might be looking for a break and this could be it. They could clearly talk about the value of your program from their experience, they have some relationship talents and this might be an exciting change of pace volunteer opportunity.

Question from Sarah Gemmell, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, small nonprofit:
    Do you have any advice for using social networking sites like Facebook for volunteer recruitment or retention?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Sarah, I think Facebook and other social networking sites can be really useful for retention. It can help build that relationship between volunteer and nonprofit. You can also use these sites to communicate in a more rapid and informal way to your volunteer corps. Experiment with how it works best for your organization and volunteers - you may find it works really well with your youth programs, but less effectively with those volunteers that have been with you for decades. Make sure it's not your only communication method, especially if large portions of your volunteer corps are not using these sites, but it can have it's place in your communication strategy.

Question from Nazia, IR USA:
    What is the best tool to track volunteer hours?

Robert Grimm:
    I am not sure if there is one I would endorse but this is an emerging and developing field. I think more and more groups are coming up with better ways to track volunteer hours that could also show, as I suggested before, the organization benefits of volunteers as well as helping you maintain a stronger relationship with your volunteers.

Question from Janet Hedrick, Bentz Whaley Flessner:
    When volunteers are involved in a capital campaign, what suggestions do you have for keeping them motivated when the campaign slows down? How can you keep the excitement alive over an extended period of time?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Janet, That can be a tough one. As the energy level falls, and the successes become farther apart are you still engaging with your volunteers on a regular basis? Have you clearly expressed what success looks like for each phase of the campaign? You most likely have a campaign goal, but do you have monthly, or quarterly goals? Sometimes celebrating small successes on a regular basis can help make the final numbers seem less daunting, and help keep the enthusiasm up. Have you considered having the volunteers who've been successful recently, or maybe over time, speak to the group in a fun, informal way? Sometimes the best motivation is simply to get all the volunteers together to share their success and challenges - build the team, so they have a connection to each other to help them stay motivated.

Question from small non profit:
    Do you have any advice on how to protect the safety and welfare of your staff and organization from just anyone volunteering their services? What if any precautions should be taken?

Robert Grimm:
    I think this is a question that depends on your mission among others. You have to decide your comfort level as well as any legal requirements depending on your circumstances. One question to ask, is how do you ensure this for your staff and is that a useful approach or one that could work with some modifications for volunteers?

Question from Joe Campbell, Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team :
    How can senior citizens, who represent small non-profit organizations, best recruit and retain new volunteers in "low-income," rural communities?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Joe, I'd encourage you to start thinking about recruiting what we at VolunteerMatch call Virtual Volunteers. When distance becomes an issue either because volunteers are not capable of traveling long distances, or because the cost of traveling is prohibitive what kinds of work can volunteers do from their home? If your volunteers have access to the internet the opportunities are limitless. With lower income volunteers, though, there may still be ways to engage them. Can staff or a more mobile volunteer drop work off at their homes? Do the seniors gather at a senior center or community center? Can you bring the work you need done to them there? Will they have access to online tools at the library? You may want to consider reaching out on an individual basis in the beginning until you determine what type of engagement will work for your area.

Question from Sarah Nehrling, Tostan International:
    We have a limited number of partnerships with internship organizations and other institutions who refer potential volunteers to our program. Still, we are one of the few large international NGOs that still accepts "independent" volunteer candidates, and this brings some very interesting and positive diversity to our organization. How can we encourage other partnerships, and maintain these positive and lasting relationships, while still recruiting and reserving places for these independents?

Robert Grimm:
    If you like the partnership route for various reasons but it isn't giving you as much diversity as you might like, you might want to consider if you need to reach out to new, different partnerships that would also provide the diverse volunteers you are getting through the "independent" route.

Question from Nazia, IR USA:
    What are different categories that we can sort our volunteers into? What are different recognition ideas for them?

Jennifer Bennett:
    Hi Nazia, Without knowing more about your program I'm not sure exactly what kind of answer you're looking for. As I mentioned in the question about recognition - the best way to identify recognition ideas for your volunteers is to ask them what would be meaningful for them. You may find that volunteers have a very different idea of recognition than your organization does, and your organization may be spending time and money on gifts or events that are not meaningful to your volunteers.

Comment from Susan Goodreds, Bethel NY:
    With regard to communication, scheduling and tracking hours, among many other things, we have used Volunteer2 (www.volunteer2.com) an internet based management system that gives volunteers direct access to scheduling and hours tracking and we, as managers, to communication, and more and more. Check it out! SG

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    We are out of time. Thank you to everyone who joined us today. I hope you found the conversation informative. Thanks, also, to our expert guests ‚ÄìJennifer Bennett and Robert Grimm. Both of you brought some important and useful ideas to the discussion and we appreciate the time you spent with us today. And we especially appreciated you both sticking around a little longer today to answer those last few questions. Thanks!

Maria DiMento (Moderator):
    Please join us a week from today at noon Eastern time when we examine grant writing strategies for today's tough economy. See you then.

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